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14 March 2018 09:23:01 |Finance,Government,News,Renewables and Environment

Farmers face 'serious financial consequences' if payments are cut post-Brexit

Dramatic reductions in existing farm support would cause "irreparable harm" to thousands of farm businesses

Dramatic reductions in existing farm support would cause "irreparable harm" to thousands of farm businesses

Farmers will face "serious financial consequences" if the Government presses ahead with cuts to farm payments post-Brexit, the CLA has said today.
The landowner organisation, including the NFU and the Tenant Farmers' Association (TFA), spoke at an influential group of MPs looking into the future of food, farming and the environment.
The CLA told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Select Committee inquiry into Defra’s Health and Harmony consultation today (14 March) that dramatic reductions in existing farm support would cause "irreparable harm" to thousands of businesses that would have "no time to adjust".
The organisation urged the Government to rethink its approach to capping farm payments so that no farming business, no matter how wealthy its owners are perceived to be, should face "sudden and dramatic" cuts.
Farmers will receive money to make improvements to the environment under a new system of subsidies, Defra Secretary Michael Gove announced earlier this year.
Under it, farmers will be rewarded for planting wildlife habitats, woods, wildflower meadows and other environmental benefits after Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019.

The government plans to guarantee that BPS payments will continue for a transition period in England, which should last a number of years beyond the implementation period, depending on consultation.
The implementation period is expected to start in March 2019 and end around 2 years later.
'Too fast-paced'
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said the Government must rethink its current approach to transition to avoid forcing change that is "too fast-paced and aggressive."
“The CLA supports the end to an acre-based basic payment system. For years we have been strong advocates of a new way that pays farmers and landowners for the public goods they provide”, Mr Breitmeyer explained.
However, he said: “No business, large or small, should face dramatic reductions and every business must be given sufficient time to absorb changes in their income profile.
“Payment should be based on supporting what a business delivers, not the size of the business that receives the payment. Just because a business is larger than average does not mean it can afford to absorb sudden and significant financial losses without serious knock-on consequences such as job cuts and stopping necessary investment.”

'Significant investment'
The CLA is also concerned by the drive to reduce the total amount of money invested in farming and land management "as an end in itself."
Mr Breitmeyer said the farming industry will need "significant investment" to deliver the government's wish of improved environmental benefits and the highest international standards of animal welfare.
“The conversation should be about how we spend the money better, not how we reduce the amount spent,” he said.
“To this end, only money that is clearly necessary for transitional measures should be taken out of the budget and as far as possible businesses suffering reductions should have access to alternative schemes or other support.”
The CLA President called for the level of payments for delivering public goods to derive a profit for farmers and landowners under the new policy.
He said: “The welcome commitment of payment for public goods must be matched by a budget that is sufficient to ensure farmers and landowners are able to deliver them and make a profit.
“Cutting the budget from existing levels would undermine the Government’s ambition for this generation to leave the environment in a better state than they found it and severely limit the ability of farmers and landowners to deliver environmental improvement schemes as part of their business model. Farmers can’t be green unless they are in the black.”


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